Raymond Board of Selectmen Letter about Cable Budget


Read by BOS Chairman Scott Campbell on 1-11-21

In the recent weeks there have been many members in the community who have expressed their appreciation for and support for RCTV.  In these correspondences, residents have also express both concerns and support for the actions of the Board of Selectmen regarding Capital Improvement funding and Budgeting oversight of RCTV.

Now that time has passed since the actions of the Board of Selectmen and the dust and emotions have settled; we wanted to take the opportunity to officially put on record the rational for what has occurred and how RCTV will be administered going forward.

1.First and foremost, the Raymond Board of Selectmen value the governmental services provided by RCTV to disseminate information to our community

2. The RCTV Staff and the Cable Committee (which consist of a Board of Selectmen Member) have been an invaluable partner in supporting communication during these times of remote and virtual meetings     

3.However, as stated above, RCTV is government service that funds itself though fees imposed on our residents and therefore must be subject to the same oversight, transparency, and controls as all other governmental services

4. In the recent past, the Raymond Board of Selectmen, who are charged with the responsibility of oversight of RCTV, have attempted to engage in matters, only to be received with resistance, hostility, threats of abandoning the program and an unfortunate campaign on social media

So tonight, on public record, we will convey the concerns not only of Board of Selectmen, but that of many residents who have not taken to social media.  We also hope this communication not only brings to light both sides of the issue but also puts the concerns of all to rest. 

1. RCTV is a governmental entity, and it is the opinion of this Board that all governmental entities must be accountable to the residents and subject to the same level of transparency, checks and balances and scrutiny in fiscal practices

2. RCTV, although a valuable service, has not in the past been subject to, or in recent times, been open to, any oversight as evidenced by the response to the Board of Selectmen’s recent efforts

3. In the last few months, the Board of Selectmen have been growingly concerned over:

            a). The advocation for a 30% increase in pay through RCTV; in a year when many of our residents are struggling through the economic realities of this last year

            b. The revenue for RCTV is based on a 2% fee (or tax) on our resident cable subscribers; and despite the economic realities of today of the families we all serve, the over $300,000 in RCTV’scash reserves in the Revolving Account and a nationwide increase cable billing; there is no discussion or recommendations put forth regarding this fee and how we can provide relief to our residents while still sustaining high level of service    

            c. Furthermore, legitimate inquiries from the Raymond Board of Selectmen regarding:

                   i). The 30% The recommended pay increase

                   ii).The Future of the Cable vs. Internet (“Cutting the Cable”)

                   iii).Other ways to provide this service

                   iv).Concerns about the Capital Investment Processes

                   v). All have been met aggressive push back from a few, who appear to be afraid of or object to any form of oversight, no matter how legitimate

We as a Board and as residents of this community, appreciate the efforts of the Cable Committee and the RCTV Staff to deliver these services.  In turn, we hope they can appreciate the responsibility and trust invested in us to ensure all governmental activities are accountable to ALL residents and are subject to the same oversight, transparency, and controls as all other governmental services.  

As unfortunate this response has been, we collectively know these actions were in part attributed to the dedication these people have to RCTV and the fear of what change may bring. 

These people who serve RCTV or on the Cable Committee are our neighbors and friends, some we have known for decades; all of use with the same desire to serve the public good.  And therefore, the Raymond Board of Selectmen refuse participate in any current social media rhetoric that it is intended to impugn the reputation of any member of this community.

We all must put the community first, model how communities should address disagreements and continue these services to our neighbors.  In this spirit,I can speak for myself, all is forgiven and now it is time to work together in partnership to do the right thing.  

And the “Right Thing” demands we collectively work together to ensure transparency, checks and balances and scrutiny in fiscal practices and below highlightthe Board of Selectmen’s intentions to work with all involved to ensure these goals are met:

1). Starting in the 2022 Budget year, the RCTV Budget will be incorporated into the Town Operational Budget

2). Only Revenues from RCTV that are needed to cover the Tax Impact of RCTV’s Operational Cost will be used and all other revenues will remain in the RCTV’s Revolving Account.

            a). Once it is incorporated in the Town Operational Budget, it will go through not only the Board of Selectmen but the Budget Committee and be subject to Public Hearings, Deliberative and the vote and the will of the people, consistent with all other Governmental programs

            b). In addition, all expenditures will be accounted for through the Town Finance Department, with oversight from the Senior Town Employee in the Department (The Cable Coordinator) and the Town Manager and subject to Town Spending Protocols, consistent with all other Governmental programs

During 2021-2022:

            a).RCTV’s Capital needs will be identified and incorporated into the Town CIP Working Group and presented to the Capital Improvement Committee and the Board of Selectmen, consistent with all other Governmental programs

             b). An evaluation of RCTV Staff will be conducted to determine which employees are considered “Town Employees” and they will be afforded the same privileges as all other Town Employees and subject to the Town’s Personnel Policy

             c).The RCTV Cable Franchise Fee will be included into the Towns new process of annually evaluating ALL Town Fees and brought forward to a Public Hearing to ensure wide-spread community input and then go before the Board of Selectmen for vote, consistent with all other Governmental programs

It is important to note; despite the fears expressed, we hope the opponents can now see that none of the actions identified above are (or were) intended to diminish the accomplishments of the current RCTV Staff or the Cable Committee; but instead intended to implement the same oversight, transparency, and controls as all other governmental services.

Going Forward, the Cable Committee will still be responsible for performing all the same duties and responsibilities it has in the past with the exception that will not act as an independent entity and will follow the same processes as all other governmental departments.

As a Town Employee, the Town Manager will weigh heavily on the expertise of the Cable Coordinator in ensuring the completions of these goals as he has been directed, with the understanding there will undoubtably be issues to resolve along the way, which we will do together. 

Now with regards to the last Capital Investment proposal from the Cable Committee and the spirit of this new partnership; I am proposing the Board of Selectmen reconsider the proposal put forth by the Cable Committee after the Cable Committee submits it to the CIP Committee and the Board of Selectmen have the benefit of their recommendations. 

In doing this, we can all ensure the sustainment of RCTV for the residents of this community that the Cable Committee and RCTV Staff has provided in the past, while ensuring the same oversight, transparency, and controls that the Board has committed itself in delivering to our residents.

RAYMOND BOARD OF SELECTMEN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Develop an attitude of Gratitude !!
Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.

~ Melody Beattie ~